A Horse Owner’s Holiday Season Struggles

Christmas Horse

As Christmas songs dominate the radio and festive decorations infiltrate the corners of every store, ’tis officially the season. Horse blankets are out of storage and in full use, and fleece gloves are hands-down the best invention of all time.

While it may be frigid outside, as equestrians, we will brave the toughest elements to spend quality time with our horses, even during the rush of the holidays. We will bake treats for our horses so they don’t feel left out of the cookie exchange. We will even deck out our horses for that special holiday photo.
Our love (obsession) for our equine partners in crime knows no limits.

The Mental Debate

I’ve heard people reference something called “sun guilt.” The phrase refers to a feeling of remorse that comes from staying inside on a beautiful, sunny day.

Likewise, I think there’s a thing called “barn guilt,” which in the winter months I would define as the feeling you get when you don’t visit your horse because the wind is blowing at over 30 mph and the temperature is below freezing.

When the self-preservation part of my brain tries to tell me I should avoid going outside and hanging with the horses, I tell myself it’s not that cold. With the latest riding apparel technology, surely I can keep circulation in all fingers and toes for that after-work ride.

Homemade Cookies

Holiday gifts can start to get expensive quickly. When you factor in family, friends, work colleagues and your barn family, you sometimes need to get creative.

One of my favorite gifts to receive is a sample of someone’s homemade holiday cookies. There are so many incredible recipes out there, and my sweet tooth can’t say no.

While I’m enjoying holiday cookies, or even potentially making them myself, I can’t help but want to make some for my horse, too.
In the past, after at least an hour of online research and an unexpectedly long amount of time measuring molasses, I have successfully baked horse treats.

Do you know what usually happens when I go to such pains for my horse? She tells me she doesn’t like those treats. She won’t even attempt to eat them. She wants plain carrots—organic, please. Doesn’t she know it’s rude to say no to a gift?

Season’s Greetings

The holiday season brings with it many customs and traditions, including holiday cards with the family photo (of course your horse is family). This can present several potential difficulties:

  • It’s going to be so cold and dark outside by the actual holiday season, you stage the photo session in October and sweat more than you thought possible in your festive outfit.
  • Your horse refuses to allow you to put the Santa hat over his ears.
  • Your horse will not put his ears forward for a single photo. He simply will not.
  • Between you, your spouse, your child, your dogs and your horse, the likelihood of one photo capturing everyone with their eyes open is nonexistent.

You give up on the photo card idea and take a spontaneous group shot one Saturday in late December. It’s the best picture you’ve taken all season, but it’s too late to get printed holiday cards. You debate saving the photo for next year’s card, then decide to share the photo on social media instead. Suddenly you realize you’ve reached a huge audience without spending a cent!

No matter what your holiday has in store, with horses in the equation, it’s pretty safe to say you’ll never have a dull moment.

Allison Griest is a freelance writer based in Texas. Follow her on Twitter: @allisongriest.

This article originally appeared in the December 2015 issue of Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!


  1. Actually I thought this might be more about mucking stalls and taking care of horses while everyone else is having fun, etc. That is the real dilemma!


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